According to Beyond Blue, one in six people will experience depression at some point in their life, with one million Australian adults living with depression in any one year.
For patients with depression, it could take months and several trials with a combination of prescription drugs before they find a treatment that works.
But a new blood test could determine whether a person will respond to specific medications and therefore personalise treatments like never before.
The test developed by scientists at King’s College London measures the levels of two biomarkers of inflammation in the blood. Elevated inflammation levels have typically been associated with poor response to antidepressant treatments, based on previous clinical studies.
"The identification of biomarkers that predict treatment response is crucial in reducing the social and economic burden of depression and improving quality of life for patients."
The scientists determined that people whose levels were under a certain threshold were deemed likely to respond to commonly prescribed antidepressants, while those above the threshold would need more complex drugs. Their research was published in the International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology.
Dr Annamaria Cattaneo, first author from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King’s College, said, “This is the first time a blood test has been used to precisely predict, in two independent clinical groups of depressed patients, the response to a range of commonly prescribed antidepressants.
“These results also confirm and extend the mounting evidence that high levels of inflammation induce a more severe form of depression, which is less likely to respond to common antidepressants.”
This research is an important step towards effective treatment for depression, eliminating the guess work and saving people the agony of trialling drugs that don’t work.
“The identification of biomarkers that predict treatment response is crucial in reducing the social and economic burden of depression and improving quality of life for patients,” said second study author Professor Carmine Pariante.